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Ready Pac Voluntarily Recalls Products Containing Peanut Butter

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, January 22, 2009

Ready Pac Foods announced a recall related to products in packages with peanut butter:

After receiving notification from one of its suppliers, Ready Pac Foods, Inc. is announcing that they are initiating a voluntary recall of certain products containing peanut butter that may have been contaminated with Salmonella. These products have been distributed to different retailers in the states of California, Utah, Illinois, Washington, Texas, New Jersey, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland. This recall is part of a nationwide recall initiated by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

Ready Pac has earned an outstanding food safety record for over 40 years and out of an abundance of caution has taken this immediate action in the interest of public health and safety.

We notified all of our customers who have received the products in question and directed them to remove

products from their shelves. Neither Ready Pac nor its customers have received any reports of illness connected to any of these products.

It is possible that some products may have already been purchased by consumers and therefore anyone who has purchased the following products with the expiration dates listed should dispose of the product or return the product to the store for a full refund. No other products are impacted in this recall.

  • Ready Pac Cool Cuts Celery with Peanut Butter 12/6.75 oz
    By Dates 12/27/08 to 2/2/09 and UPC: 077745-22415-2
  • Trader Joe’s Celery with Peanut Butter 12/6.75 oz
    By Dates 12/27/08 to 2/2/09 and UPC: 0048-5401
  • Trader Joe’s Celery with Peanut Butter 30/6.75 oz
    By Dates 12/27/08 to 2/2/09 and UPC: 0048-5401
  • Eating Right Apples with Peanut Butter 12/6.75 oz
    By Dates 12/27/08 to 2/2/09 and UPC: 0-79893-70175-2
  • Eating Right Celery with Peanut Butter 12/6.75 oz
    By Dates 12/27/08 to 2/2/09 and UPC: 0-79893-70172-1

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection withSalmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more sever illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers with questions regarding Ready Pac recall may contact (800) 800-7822. Consumers with questions or concerns about their health or observe symptoms should contact their health care provider or go to a hospital.

The whole peanut butter/salmonella recall has been fascinating, mostly because it shows that the vaunted traceability of packaged foods doesn’t really exist. Having identified the source, the industry has shown a complete lack of trace-forward capability with manufacturers announcing recalls day after day.

As a result, public health authorities announced a recommendation not to consume:

Do not eat products that have been recalled and throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them. These products include Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers and King Nut brand peanut butter produced since July 1, 2008. (FDA’s web site has recalled lot numbers).

Postpone eating other peanut butter containing products (such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream) until more information becomes available about which brands may be affected.

This was similar to the many recommendations made regarding fresh produce — spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos, etc. — the only difference is that because these products are not perishable, it is a recommendation to defer consumption until the source of peanut butter in the items has been determined. Of course, this reduces the cost, to consumers and industry, quite substantially.

CDC has also been doing a much better job than it did with the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak related to fresh produce this past summer. It has been regularly publishing an epi curve, which we pleaded for during last summer’s outbreak. It also is doing a much better job with mapping the outbreak, an issue we editorialized on here, here and here.

We don’t know the cause of this salmonella outbreak. Peanut butter often is difficult to clean off machines and thus can be an effective reservoir for contamination. It is possible the Salmonella came from rats, birds, humans… we just don’t know.

We were, however, thinking about the pasteurization of almonds, which we wrote about here and here, and is now being required.

Peanuts are grown in the soil, and the soil can contain Salmonella. Perhaps peanuts should be required to be pasteurized with the same type of treatment almonds undergo before they are used in the production of peanut butter.

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